How often have you FELT free? Why or why not?

This is a long piece so make time to read it. If it gets too long for you, read as much as you can and then skip to the last few paragraphs. You’ll just be skipping some more time and ideas to consider why you do or do not feel free. Especially note the issue of how freedom is directly related to safety and safety to basic needs for health. So consider, do I feel safe to be free? And do leave a comment on what you think.


Suppose instead of Harriet Tubman’s work, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, the slaves got together and had meetings where they sat around a table in an organized group where they chanted…I am powerless over slavery and my life is unmanageable, came to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity…and when the slave meeting was over, they went back to their slave lives.

Suppose instead of acknowledging, knowing and doing something about the existence of slavery and their unfair treatment they received within their slavery status, slaves went to the slaveowners complaining about the rapes, the beatings, the overworking and unfair working practices, the way their children were treated, the terrible problems in their social environment and perhaps also the conditions of which they lived such as low quality food and housing. And suppose the slaveowners took care of these complaining slaves by sending them to a special slaveowner, a slavecologist, who had specialized knowledge of slaves and problems. And suppose that slavecologist told the complaining slaves, “you have a problem because you don’t want to be a slave, but you Are a slave, so you have slavpression and oppositional slavery disorder and you must get treatment so you can be a functional slave.

And suppose the slaves who didn’t have a problem with being a slave heard about the slave that had slavpression and oppositional slavery disorder and they said, “how sad..what is wrong with you that you have this condition? We are all just handling our slavery just fine. We worked hard enough for 60 years that we now own 1/2 of our own house! Why do you have so many problems? Maybe you should work harder, turn to Jesus, learn Buddhism and meditate or just be goddam grateful for what you have. What Is your problem?

But suppose that more and more complaining slaves got together and said, “Enough is enough…we are going to do something.” So they started with the most urgent problem for some of the slaves that were being killed and created a battered slavery shelter for the abused slaves. And of course, it as well-known that all the other slaves weren’t getting battered because they have ‘good’ slaveowners and, well, yes, those slaves are obedient slaves doing what slaves are to be doing…I mean, it just couldn’t be that these slaves are getting abused for some reason….like slavery? No, it is because the slaveowners are abusive. Abuse is misuse of slaveowner power. Now which slaveowners are the abusives ones? The ones that misuse their power. Oh. Okaaaaaayyyyyy.

Well, 30 years after the battered slavery shelters opened, it was found that some slaves that tried to get away from their abusive slaveowners sometimes got killed on the way..or the way home. It was also found out that, slaveonwers weren’t too happy with the interference and loss of their property, especially if a slave was taking child slaves as well. But for the most part, slaveowners felt pretty secure about keeping their slaves…and contracts between slave and slaveowners continued in the usual fashion…but statistics of violence and abuse were increasing.

Suppose that instead of slavery being called slavery and instead of fighting against that particular social institution in society, there were different names for the different circumstances that happened under the institution of slavery. For instance, when a boy or girl child of a slave got raped by the slaveowner, it was called outcest…and when the slave mother got raped by the slaveowner it was called slavital rape, when the slave father got raped by his slaveowner it was called brutal slavital rape and when the young women or man slave got raped by just a neighboring slaveowner whom they knew, it was called neighbor to neighbor rape and when any slave got raped by a slaveowner that was a stranger, even if it was an older woman slave, it was just called rape – because rape means taking by force. The rape of a stranger was, without doubt, for a long time, known as the only and ultimate rape, not because he took by force, but because it certainly wasn’t okay to take a particular someone by force that wasn’t your property. But when rape happens by a slaveowner to his own property, well, then how can he be wrong for taking something by force that is his? I mean it is his property. He can take it.

And suppose while all these different rapes were going on between particular specific people – this taking by force was not going on – never even heard of in one particular specific relationship. yes, there was one particular relationship in this slave society that didn’t have any taking of force going on. Slaveowners did not rape other slaveowners! It just wasn’t even in the realm of conception. People never even noticed that it didn’t happen because they just couldn’t imagine one slaveowner raping another – for what reason? There is no way it was going to happen. You  know why? Once you are taken by force, you are a slave, not a slaveowner. The whole of the social system was set up by slaveowners with laws so slaveowners couldn’t be raped by anyone, in any way, especially by other slaveowners. They created groups and groups of men and weapons to protect them so they could remain free from being taken by force. In fact, being taken by force simply can’t happen to anyone except if you are a slave! That’s how it all started. The real issue isn’t being addressed, that is, the fact that all of this rape was going on by one single social institution called slavery.

So suppose on top of all the different kinds of sexual rape…I mean, besides outcest, slavital rape, brutal slavital rape, neighbor to neighbor rape and just plain rape, there were other forms of rape – that is, taking by force – that were going on that didn’t even have the label rape. I mean, a slave can be forced in other ways besides sexual so when you are a slave and your body is owned, you can be raped – that is – forced in many ways – for example, perhaps financial when all your money is taken or emotional when you are forced to give up your thoughts, feelings and any initiative for yourself or historical rape when they take your history. In fact, alot of life can be taken from you especially if you are a child slave and you get brainwashed as a young child into the slavery system without it being known which can result in a situation as to not even know what life might be like outside of slavery. Slavery becomes normal, natural living. Yes, there are all kinds of things that can happen when someone owns or treats a body as property and this becomes tradition. In fact, slaveowners can be raised as slaveowners without even knowing they are slaveowners if it is tradition and they believe that slavery is natural human relationships. You see, sexual rape and physical beatings are only one part of a vast institution of slavery.

So suppose, despite all the horrors of slavery, the slaveowners decided that they didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. From their perspective, slaves needed to be slaves and besides slaves were merely property, not full human beings. The thought that slave and slaveowners were the same was outrageous!  There were biological reasons found by slavology scientists that explained slave hormones and all kinds of biological things that proved that slaves were different beings ith different slave genes. And besides, since the slaveowners wanted to keep their slaves, there was no big law passed against taking people by force because slaveowners made the laws. Slavery didn’t get abolished. However, there was growing discontent and confusion around the issue  about which particular situations were okay for forcing and which were not and it was all getting lost in all the different terms of when it wasn’t okay to take by force.

But suppose the slaves got pissed off and the slaveowners started to realize that their slaves weren’t too happy anymore and they might just organize and not be slaves at all, so the slaveowners agreed to let some of the slaves go to schools and read and write and this started a pattern and pretty soon, slaves were going to college and they studied the books of the slaveowners and they realized that all the information they were taught in public school excluded some very important things that happened that developed the slavery system and they could see all the skewed facts and distortions that they had been taught to keep them slaves. They had been told there was no history of the slaves…that the slaves never did anything important enough to be mentioned.

All the books in schools had only shown slaveowners and the slaveowner leaders! But with the slaves’ college education and researching abilities, they soon made significant progress and having shown some things that were undoubtedly true, the government decided that they deserved to have a history so they proclaimed April to be Slavery History Month so people could start learning about slave history and the truth about slaves.

Suppose that the slaves, instead of getting certain rights secured by the government couldn’t get those rights because the slaveowners were still not real excited about the idea and the slaveowners kept insisting that the slaves were being treated fairly and getting more rights all the time. The SRA amendment didn’t pass, wasn’t needed and would surely disrupt nice slave families! I mean the slaveowners were doing more and more to make sure the slaves were treated pretty well. Slaves now had the right to education and they actually were allowed to do some work for pay, even some work that was only done by slaveowners in the past, and, in some cases, slaves were even getting paid about 1/2 of what a slaveowner made! This was really progress. But some slaves weren’t happy, they wanted equal pay for equal work. But all the while, the slaves were slaves as they now had to work two jobs ( or three); the one was still performing duties to the slaveowner at home when they got home from their other, paid work. It wasn’t easy but some slaves actually got some slaveowners to do some slave work.

Suppose that there were no slaves in positions that could abolish slavery, and the slaves that had managed to get into the very good positions within the slavery system where they had more rights actually didn’t want the slavery system to change because they started to not feel like slaves – sort of – and they were really glad for what privileges they got. They had worked hard and made the adjustments to be like slaveowners so they would be accepted. They were also angry at other slaves who couldn’t rise above their low slavery status.

And suppose all the mistreatment kept going on and on and things just kept changing slowly until the whole society was in confusion and chaos. As the Slaves got more rights they started treating each other like slaves and some of the slaveowners got in positions where wealthier slaveowners treated them like slaves so slaveowners started feeling like slaves themselves so much so that the slavcologist was diagnosing just about everyone with  attention-deficit slavery disorder, slavery oppositional disorder, bi-polar slavery disorder, post-traumatic slavery disorder, slavpression, slavphrenia, and a whole array of new disorders because everyone was having trouble with the chaotic, changing rules of society. At this point even child slaves were using slaveowner tactics, acting like slaveowners themselves, in schools and at home! There was more safety in slavery shelters than there was in slavery homes, workplaces and schools because abuse – the action of trying to force in some way another human being to do something – was rampant in the society. And nobody even knew what was going on anymore. They didn’t know who were the real slaveowners and who were the real slaves.

Suppose this is what happened. Suppose slavery was never abolished by the 13th Amendment or maybe the more appropriate question is…Was all forms of slavery, and involuntary servitude abolished with the 13th amendment; an amendment to a document that stated all men are created equal; a document written by slaveowners who never intended the word men to include their slaves, women and children; slaveowner writers who never imagined that capitalism, corporate dominance, social communication networks and technologies, and other social elements, 250 years later, would take on a monstrous structure, more insidious and destructive than what they had declared independence from; independence that was meant to give life, liberty and happiness; that that life, liberty and happiness were to be rights that now become pale in comparison to the violations that now threaten humans – the rights of being healthy and safe, of water, air, earth itself, shelter, food and time; their lifetime time that is free and not for sale, food, air, water, land that is free of poisons and not for sale; poisons that come from profits; profits that, by law, mean more than people; and other people that need more profit and time; people not considered persons, but assets and commodities for businesses; and needing time for living, in order to have their lives for without their lives, freedom means nothing.


8 thoughts on “How often have you FELT free? Why or why not?

  1. Nice article Karen. I’m not sure what freedom really is….. No I rarely feel free, but perhaps that is our own nature. Do we really need a car? a phone? Computer? Everything we do in life commits us to something else. Everything we own, or think we own in turn owns us. Everything demands our time, our thoughts, something of us. And rather than abandon these demanding intrusions into our lives, we go out and invite more to the ever building mountain. I think about the only time I ever feel free is when I am in a creative truly moment. And these are only brief.
    Your example of Poison for profit is very good, yet it is also two sided. The person selling the poison is never ever free because his life is dictated by his own greed which only perpetuates itself, can never have enough, and therefor is never free. At least for me, I know I am more free than that person.


    • Hi Don

      Thanks for responding to my work. I’ve haven’t had as much time as I’d like and internet is so limited, but I was debating how I wanted to response to your post. Not sure what you need, and I think what you need matters when I respond. Nonetheless, one thought that kind of stood out was this. Suppose a ‘slave’ wrote the words you wrote. Would you believe it? Particularly, that it is ‘our nature’ to be where we are doing what we are doing. My thought is that being free has to do with unlearning what we learned and finding out what is missing. As writer, I believe the language is part of the issue. For me, the quality of my life improves tremendously. Gotta go, my grandson is waking.
      Good to talk to you.


  2. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to write this post. I have a couple of questions.

    “Suppose instead of acknowledging, knowing and doing something about the existence of slavery and their unfair treatment they received within their slavery status, slaves went to the slaveowners complaining about the rapes, the beatings, the overworking and unfair working practices, the way their children were treated, the terrible problems in their social environment and perhaps also the conditions of which they lived such as low quality food and housing.”

    I’m a bit confused about this sentence, can you clarify? I don’t understand the use of ‘instead’.

    Also, can you explain why you decided to use this analogy? I’m not resistant to it, it’s just something I would have never thought to do and I’m a bit curious.



    • I’m suggesting to imagine that the existence of slavery wasn’t changed and in replace of what actually DID happen, to consider the slaves going to the slaveowners
      for change or to a 12 step meeting. I’m trying to point to the ineffectiveness of solving some of our current problems by going to the wrong people in power and by attending 12 step meetings as two ways people are attempting to solve their problems today.
      I say this because I witnessed this type of response to the hierarchy that exists today.

      It’s simply an exercise to imagine and
      then if you read through the whole piece, it brings you around to understand how the dynamics of not being free exist within our lives.

      Through years of research, my view of
      what was taught to me about our society from a general public education was drastically changed. Part of that change was understanding relationships of
      classism, racism, sexism, ageism, etc. It became clearer how we are caught in a prison-slave type existence that is defined by social relationships
      and how they may and may not function.

      Thanks for your question and let me know if my explanation helped or was lacking for you. I appreciate your interest.


      • Thanks for the reply. I think I was a bit confused because I imagine that many slaves did go to their slaveowners seeking change – but I agree that seeking help from an oppressive power structure is the least effective way to do so. I was originally drawn to the post because my entire family (besides a small percentage of Native Americans – who needless to say also had European male subjugation to deal with) has strong historical ties to this time, and it’s always interesting to make ties between past and present oppression. I’m a big fan of the Hegelian theme, and on a second reading, I understood this a lot more. I would recommend that people read it once and then read it again after thinking and digesting for a day or two.


      • I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. I have to say that I touched on Hegelian in college but would need something to jog my memory about it.
        I am pretty practical and my experience showed me that behaviors are right and wrong based on the result you want to have which was contrary
        to my upbringing that taught me there were ‘absolute’ wrongs and rights. Once I changed the teachings I had gotten, and my behaviors and I got the results I wanted, it was so rewarding, I just kept doing it. That is, looking to change my behaviors to meet situations to produce the results I want.


  3. I actually feel free in an alanon meeting, because everyone there is working to undo their conditioning, personal and political. They are working to be honest and to have the courage to confront. I think you are setting up a straw man by posing 12-step programs as the opposite of freedom.


    • I believe I understand your interpretation of my writing. I think that your interpretation means that the point I was attempting to make was not communicated to you. I was not discussing anyone’s experience of Al-anon. Certainly not yours.

      My point was about the general actions of going to a meeting versus the actions of a war and political activity that changed laws and amended the constitution and that group activity for the larger society. If you see that in black and white terms, that is not my understanding. As a creative, I rarely think in terms of something polarized but instead spectrums. Maybe the way I wrote the piece, an ‘opposite’ of freedom might created in one’s mind. I don’t know. To me, the ‘tactics’ of conversation are not my concern because to discuss the tactics seems to avoid the communication and the message, my concern is whether I have communicated what I intended and whether the reader received my message and vice versa. I see words and writing as a tool, primarily for communication and try to use it as such. I appreciate the fact that you read the piece and commented on it and I understand you to say you feel free at an al-anon meeting.


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